Love is not the ultimate bedrock, or final truth, upon which all stands. It is the final manifestation of two necessary predicates: Truth and Freedom. If I do not know how to love – that is, know what is the truth about how to act in Love – then I cannot love. I may try to love in my own wisdom or base it off the examples of the world, but ultimately I will either misunderstand the meaning of love entirely (as Orual did with Psyche in Lewis’s Till We Have Faces) or else run against the moral reef and break my ship apart. Truth, then is of utmost importance.
But how am I to perform this action, except from a position of freedom? This reveals two points. First, if I am not allowed to love in the true manner set down by whatever authority I appeal to, then it is definitely impossible for me to love. If for example, a totalitarian state sets up such policies that restrict me from “rejoicing in the truth” or “not delight[ing] in evil” or even “not envy[ing]” (1 Cor. 13), then I cannot love – at least, not as Christ would define it (but this is to assume a Biblical definition of love). Secondly, if a “benevolent” God made it a necessary part of our nature to perform those aforementioned acts, then I would necessarily “love”, but it would not be of free choice, so can I truly be said to “have love”?
Thus, Truth is dependent on the Freedom of a person to apprehend it, and Freedom on the Truth of the state of a man, whether his mind is determined of his own will, or else by political power or by metaphysical necessity. This is depicted in the figure below.
By these arguments, we have determined that Love is not itself – or rather, is not self-referentially true – but rather is defined as something, or some action, or some state of being. But what is this? Why not sooner ask Love itself what it is? Surely Love can give an answer as to what It is. But it has! Love has spoken! And this is the Word which Love says:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Cor. 13:4-7
Love, then, has a definition. But this means that all talk of “Love is love” is nonsense. Love is not love; rather, “Love is patient,” love “does not envy,” and so forth. In fact, we may go so far as to say, “God is Love,” and if Christ is God, then Christ is the physical manifestation of Love. But that means Love is a person. Love has a name. Christ, therefore, is the manifestation of Truth and Freedom (the necessary foundations of Love) acting as two distinct natures in One person. We revise our previous diagram:
In order to love, then, it is sufficient to know Christ. But we remember that Christ Himself as not a philosopher or historian or academician; rather, he acted. Thus, “to know Christ” is not knowledge of the usual sort, confined to books and arguments and papers, but includes actions, movements, life, a Way. So we must follow this Way, or else be left behind in our understanding of Love.
Furthermore, to “be free” is as basic a building block to our pursuit of Truth as it is to living life itself. If I did not believe I was free this moment to write these words you now read, then I would throw down my pen and jump out the window of my room. This draws out the importance of hope to fight despair in our lives, a point which I will not go into detail here. Needless to say, whether one is a confirmed political libertarian or a staunch metaphysical determinist, due to the interplay between Truth and Freedom (as was already established) each lives life with the assumption that one has the freedom to live it. But this implies that the true manifestation of Freedom is Life. Therefore, we change our diagram yet again to reflect these two developments of following the Way and living Life:
More development will be necessary to connect any causal interplay between Truth and Way, and Life and Way. Whatever the case, it will by this point be apparent to even the newer adherents to the Christian faith that this diagram of the manifestations of Love and its foundations is the very definition Christ gave to Himself. Thus, in order to know Truth, and life Life freely and fully, and to Love truly, one need only follow Christ in the Way He leads us. This is to know Him in the fullest sense: “My goal is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being somehow conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).
It is significant throughout the preceding discussion that Truth did not change in any of the diagrams. This is due to the fact that Truth is the same in its apprehension as it is in its manifestation – or, if you like, it is the bedrock both of questions of epistemology and of ontology, though this is not an exact analogy. Freedom is manifested in Life and Love in the Way of the Cross, but Truth does not manifest itself. It simply is. Just as “I Am that I Am” is the only self-referential statement in the Bible which has and requires no explanation, so it is with Truth, which has neither predicate nor consequence. It simply is… “I Am that I Am.”